Sunday, April 29, 2007

New York Times recent coverage of Fair Trade

Well, I didn't get into the NY Times today, but here's the letter I submitted.  What did you think?

To the Editor,

Two articles (“Certifying Coffee Aids Farmers and Forests in Chiapas” and “…While
Brooklyn Sips”
) about Fair Trade in one Sunday edition (April 22, 2007) is nothing
to complain about, but I do need to correct one point in the Featherstone article.
Fair Trade didn’t begin in the 1980s in Europe. Many Fair Traders trace the history
of the movement to the efforts of Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite woman who began selling
Puerto Rican embroidery out of the trunk of her car in Pennsylvania after World
War II. Ms. Featherstone, like many observers of the movement, confused the advent
of the Fair Trade certification label with the start of the movement.

Without acknowledging the role of individuals who not only assuage their consciences
through responsible purchases but who also find ways to bring Fair Trade into the
daily lives of others, we risk missing a major point of Fair Trade: it is an opportunity
to change the lives of others. In fact, the movement was originally called “alternative
trade,” suggesting a different way to do business that favored the marginalized
and disadvantaged. Across the decades, Fair Trade has offered consumers and citizens
a range of personal, economic, and political actions to take for justice. No doubt
the certification label (as your section A story attests) helped bring Fair Trade
to the mainstream, but Edna Ruth started it all by doing word-of-mouth marketing
to a bunch of church ladies who cared not just about beautiful linens for their
homes, but also livelihoods for their sisters overseas.

The Fair Trade ethic spreading across the United States will continue to be more
than a trend if it remembers its roots and its visions of justice.

Thank you,
Jacqueline DeCarlo, author, Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide

1 comment:

  1. It's a good letter, Jackie, I'm sorry they didn't publish it.